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2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure Appeals to the Young, and the Young at Heart

On first look, 2018 RAV4 Adventure conjures thoughts of off road adventure, lite trailer hauling, and that extended road trip to destinations unknown. We drop in behind the wheel of Toyota's latest RAV4 offering and walk away with a n opinion or two, mostly positive. Torque News takes a closer look.

2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure targets the young, and the young at heart. With that said, as much as I want to love RAV4 Adventure, it doesn’t hit all of my buttons. Out of fairness to our friends at Toyota, the last RAV4 we drove before this review was the 2nd to the top of the trim walk SE Hybrid. I found it to be fuel efficient, refined of ride, and relatively quiet under all driving conditions. The RAV4 Adventure, not so much so -- it’s a bit more utility crossover-like.

2018 RAV4 Adventure brings off-the-grid capability to Toyota’s best selling family hauler

To say that the Adventure is not as cushy as the hybrid variant is an understatement. But that’s O.K., it’s not claiming to be. Beginning with the high bolstered fabric covered limited adjustable driver and front passenger seats, it becomes evident that this trim package targets a younger, active demographic.

And, that’s just fine with those of us that explore the wild outdoors on any given weekend. The young, and the young at heart will appreciate RAV4’s arrival into Subaru Forester or XTerras’ backyard. Torque News Toyota Expert John Goreham takes a turn behind the wheel of 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure in the New England Winter Snow.

RAV4 visually invokes plausible off-road adventure

This is the first RAV4 variant that comes to market willing, ready, and able, to wander off the pavement, while towing up to 3500 lbs -- when optioned with the special tow package. We’re also told that RAV4 Adventure is rated to haul 900 pounds gross, in its ballistic fabric covered, and leather detailed cab. We found the power adjusted front seats to be comfortable, although larger passengers may find the aggressively bolstered seating to be less than inviting.

The Adventure package interior is designed for durability, and easy clean up. Sporting durable all weather rubber mats in all rows, and a durable, washout cargo tray behind the second row, an optional 110V, 100 amp, powerstation, integrated roof rack, and pls size 18 inch powder coated 5-spoke wheel, and heavy duty wheel well and rocker covers, RAV4 Adventure looks ready to venture off of the pavement, and is a good looking head turner.

Our 2018 Adventure test mule is equipped with intelligent all wheel drive. Power is delivered to the primary FWD chassis via a very good 2.4L 4 cylinder gasoline engine -- developing 176 peak horsepower@ 6300 RPM, and 172 lb-ft torque @ 4100 rpm. Shifting is performed by Toyota’s mechanically bulletproof 6 speed A.T..

I found the engine to transmission pairing works very well, although a bit noisy in the higher rev-range. For those of you that worry over the implications of turbocharging, RAV4 isn't. In this case, compatible gear ratio, direct injection, and advanced engine management results in reasonable fuel efficiency, and measurable torque. RAV4 Adventure claims 23 city/30 highway.. We didn’t do as well in real-world driving. However, looking to the overall crappy weather of the week, RAV4 Adventure came close, recording an overall MPG average of 23.5, while burning regular unleaded gasoline. Find full specifications here.

2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure takes on mud, snow, the family dog and more

Our “week in the seat” behind the wheel of Toyota’s latest RAV4 variant took place the week before the beginning of Spring in Western Oregon. There, it’s not uncommon for Winter to exit with some extreme weather, March was no exception. Taking delivery of Toyota’s latest and greatest 2-row SUV advent in the rain proved to be the normal weather condition for the week.

Pushing 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure to its reasonable limit on wet roads outside of Eugene, Oregon, proved to be a bit anticlimactic; thanks to Toyota’s AWD dynamic Torque Control. We experienced no noticeable traction loss while driving on multiple road surfaces through the week’s torrential downpour. As to off-road adventure? Not this time. However, looking to Adventure’s higher axle clearance, and rock-road tough undercarriage, I wouldn't hesitate to venture off road.

A final thought or two

I like what Toyota’s done to take RAV4 up a notch in style, and off road adventure capability. Furthermore, the dirt, mud, and water resistant all-weather mats found standard on Adventure makes the end of the journey clean up a snap. There’s also something very cool about Adventure’s monochrome paint schemes, black-out rims, durable plastic kicks, roof racks, and glare reducing flat-black hood detail.

Buyers will find the Adventure to be well equipped, including Toyota’s award winning Safety Sense, lane-keep assist, multiple drive modes, ease of personal electronic connectivity, back up Cam, and more.

As priced (starting MSRP $28,500+) RAV4 Adventure is a relative bargain in the segment. I’d compare it to 2018 Honda CR-V, but they don’t offer an off-road package, either does Ford or Nissan, the other top sellers in the compact 2-row crossover segment.

What Toyota offers is something unique. And, although targeting perhaps a younger, outdoor active demographic, I recommend a test drive to anyone looking for a very good, multiple purpose, fun to drive CUV, with a dash of Adventure running through its fuel lines.

What I like: Descent fit and finish, multiple drive modes, adequate power, reasonable fuel economy, and compelling good looks.

What I’d change: I found the overall suspension tuning to be a bit harsh, road generated tread noise bordering on loud, and a bit too much body roll in the sweeps. But then again, I’d transition from the RAV4 Hybrid to the Adventure. A rather apples to oranges comparison.

Overall Assessment: A capable long-term proposition for the dollar. I like it!